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The Optimist

Narendra Modi
Photo credit: Press Information Bureau, Government of India

India announces plan to end tuberculosis by 2025

Here’s the summary:

Prime Minister Modi announced a plan to eliminate tuberculosis in India by 2025. With more people dying of TB in India than anywhere else in the world, this is a big step forward and will hopefully inspire other countries to take action.

And here are the details:

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the TB Free India campaign – a plan to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025, five years ahead of the target set by the UN’s sustainable development goals. It’s a commitment that’s ambitious and signals Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to fighting the diseases in India, which has the highest burden of TB in the world. In 2016, the nation lost nearly 423,000 TB patients – a third of the world's 1.4 million TB death toll.

By establishing an ambitious plan for TB elimination, Modi signaled his commitment to fighting the disease in India – the country with the highest burden of TB in the world. This is a big step for India and it’s significant that the country – with Modi at the helm – is recognizing the importance of stopping TB given that it hasn’t received much prominence previously.

However, the campaign does not directly address an important factor: tobacco use. In India, 7.9% of TB-related deaths are caused by tobacco. Though tobacco use has fallen in recent years, a whopping 28.6% of adults still use tobacco, and that number includes at least 625,000 children between the age of 10 and 14.

But we’re hoping that India’s sustained leadership on this issue will inspire other countries to take similar action during an unprecedented year for TB advocacy with the United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB taking place in September – the first UN high-level meeting on TB ever and only the fifth UN high-level meeting to focus on health.